Texas Monthly Talks

Ethan Hawke

Ethan Hawke


Notes from Evan Smith

"He is, as the popular description goes, an old person’s idea of a young person. Put another way, Ethan Hawke may be only 37, but in Hollywood years — a calculation slightly more forgiving than the one intended for dogs — he ought to be ready for retirement, and he has a career-length resume. His first appearance on the big screen was all the way back in 1985, when he starred, alongside another newbie actor named River Phoenix, in the forgettable science-fiction film Explorers. His first significant role came three years later, in Dead Poet’s Society: Cast memorably as one of seven prep schoolers studying literature and life from a hip English teacher, he established himself as a bankable actor with serious chops, and nothing he’s done since — not the futuristic fantasy Gattaca, not the good-cop-bad-cop thriller Training Day, not the scenery-chewing adaptations Hamlet and Great Expectations — has dimmed his star. An Austin native whose parents met as students at the University of Texas — and whose paternal grandfather served five terms in the state legislature — Hawke still feels strong ties to his birthplace — and not just because he remembers fondly the many July 4ths he spent at Willie Nelson’s picnic. He’s written two Texas-flavored novels, The Hottest State and Ash Wednesday, and every chance he gets he takes a role in one of his pal Rick Linklater’s talky Austin indies — at last count, they’d done six projects together and are at work on a seventh. Indeed, the two-time Academy Award-nominee and Texas Film Hall of Fame inductee was in Austin recently to screen the film version of The Hottest State, which he directed, as a benefit for Linklater’s Austin Film Society, and he was a great mood when he stopped by his life and work, including his most recent film, the already acclaimedSidney Lumet heist flick Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. If the adoring throngs mobbed you and hung on your every word in true matinee idol fashion, you’d be in a great mood too." - Evan Smith, Texas Monthly Talks, Broadcast 11.29.07